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By ALDEN WICKER

Straw Bale Construction: The Ultra-Ecological House

Every few years, discussions about using straw bales as a building material come up again. As our environmental challenges mount—from wildfires to hurricanes—straw bales seem to offer a sustainable answer. And as we in the American West seem to find ourselves in “fire season” earlier with each passing year, it’s time to ask: Has the humble straw bale’s moment finally come?

By MEA MCNEIL

Listen to “The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton”

Organic, recycled, or synthetic: As the fashion industry scrambles to find more sustainable textiles, what’s the future of cotton? And what is the true cost? Editor’s note: This story was updated from the original by the author for re-release in our Fall 2021 issue.

The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton

Everyone in the fashion world wants to find a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to make cotton clothing—or a benign (and equally comfy) alternative to it. In Scandinavia, an enterprising cadre of materials scientists is on the brink of succeeding. But almost no one appreciates these innovations’ social costs.

Story and photography by ALDEN WICKER

Listen to “Eco-Fashion’s Animal Rights Delusion”

In this exploration of the hidden stories behind materials such as wool and rayon, silk and polyester, and vegan leather, writer and sustainable fashion expert Alden Wicker found some inconvenient truths about the animal rights movement.

Eco-Fashion’s Animal Rights Delusion

When you put on a stylish jacket made of rayon, vegan leather, or even recycled plastic, are you sure you’re helping the planet more than if you had bought one made of animal leather? In this journey down a very twisted rabbit hole, sustainable fashion expert Alden Wicker, founder and editor-in-chief of EcoCult, finds answers that may not be particularly comfortable for the animal rights movement.

By ALDEN WICKER

Listen to “Led by the Nose”

In a growing number of artisanal shops dotted around the globe, indie perfume artists are bottling a world of scents left untapped by commercial fragrance houses.

Led by the Nose

If you’re tired of smelling like everyone else, you can say ‘no’ to the big perfume houses, and their overpriced, generic scents. In a growing number of kitchen labs and small shops around the globe, small-scale perfume artists are bottling a world of intoxicating new scents. Some seem to give new meaning to the concept of time travel.

By BARBARA TANNENBAUM

Listen to “Real Film Strikes Back”

Against all odds, and despite the best efforts of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, old-fashioned, analog, motion-picture film is suddenly making a comeback. What’s the magic in this old medium that digital technology can’t seem to match?

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